While the heat of summer can have just as significant an effect on your energy bills as the cold of winter, it is far more important to prepare your house for the coldest months. Freezing temperatures and chilling winds can do an incredible amount of expensive damage if left unchecked. For this reason, it is essential that the prudent homeowner perform the four following inspections to ensure that the walls, roofingand structure of their home is ready for winter’s worst:
INSULATION IN ATTICS AND CRAWL SPACES
Insulation is a critical factor in keeping energy costs affordable even if you have a state-of-the-art HVAC system. It should form a continuous shield around any exterior walls that separate the living spaces from the outside. Be sure to check insulation for the accumulation of moisture or other damage that could affect its performance.
INSPECT SHINGLES AND UNDERLAYMENT ON YOUR ROOF
Similarly, the roof of your home protects all the underlying components of your home from exposure to extreme temperatures, plus the wind and the rain. A thorough inspection by an experienced contractor will identify any loose or cracked shingles, rotten wood and any places where water might enter the home. This preventive maintenance is well worth the effort as it will save time, money and aggravation in the future.
PROPERLY SEAL ANY WALL PENETRATIONS
The walls of your home also provide protection from the elements they are not subject the same severe stresses as the roof. Instead, homeowners will penetrate the wall for a variety of reasons and not properly seal the resulting hole. For instance, pipes and ductwork are often needed when new appliances are installed. Normally the installers will only get the appliance working and neglect any further work that is not in their contract. A homeowner should inspect every place where a pipe, duct or electrical connection exits their home and ensure that they are completely and properly sealed.
DRAIN AND COVER ALL EXPOSED PIPES
Even mild winter temperatures combined with a steady wind can freeze pipes in a few hours. The potential for disaster is significant if these water pipes are not properly protected. While pipes are often insulated to some degree, this protection is not always enough. If possible, drain any pipes, exposed to outdoor conditions, completely and use an internal shut-off valve to keep them free of water. If not, it is advisable to leave any exposed pipes with a small drip. This will keep a slow flow of water going so that it will not freeze.
These four procedures won’t guarantee that you’ll have a problem free winter but they will go a long way in protecting the roofing, walls and infrastructure of your house.